Living with young onset Parkinson’s: Winners and losers

As the Covid-19 lockdown continues
slowly lifting, it is becoming clear there are winners as well as losers.

Obviously for some it has been tragedy. Someone at work died of the virus a few weeks ago. A man in his forties with two young children, he simply got sick one day, was admitted to hospital and died a couple of weeks later. How terribly sad.

Another work colleague
asked me to pray for her parents who are both struggling with the disease. She
is currently off work keeping a bedside vigil, and I suspect she won’t be back
for a while.

Then there are many
people who’ve lost their livelihoods. Similarly, quite a few businesses have
collapsed. I went shopping in Oxford Street yesterday. Most stores were open,
but with perhaps a third of the usual number of customers on a sunny Friday
afternoon. A few of the shops were boarded up, permanently in some cases, as the
recession looms.

Transportation has
similarly suffered. The tube and buses are now wonderfully quiet – and clean –
Transport for London must be haemorrhaging money every day as people
continue to shop and work locally, and tourists stay at home. It goes without
saying that airlines across the globe are universally in big trouble.

Museums, galleries,
theatres, sports stadia, religious venues. They are all gradually reopening but
with reduced numbers. And education at all levels has suffered enormously.

But there are winners
too. Here a few:

  • Online retailers
  • Pizza delivery drivers
  • Technology companies
  • Gardens and garden centres
  • Families
  • Communities
  • The environment
  • People with Parkinson’s (or other long-term health conditions)

The last one doesn’t
seem immediately obvious. Certainly in recent months we Parkies have been low on
the priority list of a medical profession that has been fully focussed on
dealing with the virus. However, despite the current challenges, I believe there are a few ways that we will come
out of this better.

One clear benefit for
someone of working age has been the whole working from home thing. I find this
so much easier than the daily commute, and now there is broad acceptance that,
even in a client facing role, this can be effective. Indeed, over recent weeks
I have been closely involved in several international projects without stepping
outside the house. So, if as seems likely, I continue to work mostly from home when
the office is fully open again, I can still be at the sharp end of the business
rather than being forced to take a more internal role.

Secondly, I imagine
medical research may improve. If, as has been predicted, a vaccine for covid-19
is developed and brought to market in the next 18 months, it will demonstrate
the art of the possible when collective minds and willpower are sufficiently
focussed. Research into conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is very
well intentioned but continues to move at a snail’s pace. Hopefully the
pandemic experience will reinvigorate research into other conditions.

Thirdly there is
compassion. People now seem to look out for each other more than ever. I have regular
Zoom calls with my family, with my friends and with my local Parkinson’s network.
We are all there for one another, ready to help out, or just listen, when
needed. The long-term health community that I set up at work also now meets
weekly for a virtual coffee break. People seem to really appreciate the
opportunity to connect with kindred spirits for half an hour each week. More
broadly, there is much more of a sense of community, and compassion, than there
was before, especially for those in need of a little support.

In the past few months
there have been many people who have suffered, either directly or indirectly,
because of the virus. But there is an opportunity for the majority to emerge
from this better. Let’s continue all the positives. And make them outweigh the

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